Uzbekistan, Tashkent, May 29 / Trend D.Azizov /
An eight-metre low-floor city bus designed locally called the Samauto LE 60 and produced by Samarkand Automobile Plant Ltd. (JSC SamAvto) started undergoing tests in Uzbekistan, a representative of the company told Trend on Wednesday.
The designing of the Samauto LE 60 bus for up to 57 passengers with a total weight of 9.8 tons has been carried out by SamAvto experts together with the Russian JSC Engineering company Ermis (Omsk).
The new bus model will be equipped with a German Deutz diesel engine with a rear transverse arrangement, ZF gearbox, Hungarian RABA rear axle and front suspension and Belgian WABCO brakes.
The length of the bus is eight metres, width 2.5 metres and height 2.8 metres.
Originally the plant management intended to launch the automobile production in the third quarter of 2010 and then it was postponed until 2011. The initial capacity of the SKD assembly was planned for a volume of 500 cars a year. The size of the investment in the project isn't specified.
As previously reported, in May 2010 Uzavtosanoat and Mercedes-Benz Buses Central Asia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, signed an agreement to establish a joint venture with an authorised capital of $ 8 million with 49 and 51 per cent of the shares respectively, for the production of 12m long buses with a carrying capacity of eight tons on a Mercedes-Benz chassis.
The cost of the project on the establishment of bus production with the capacity of 600 cars per year was estimated at $31 million. The first buses were to get off the assembly line in September 2010. However, production was not established because Uzavtoprom and Daimler AG did not reach an agreement on the basic conditions of the functioning of the joint venture.
SamAuto was established in November 2006 as the result of the Uzbek-Turkish joint venture SamKochauto being declared bankrupt. Currently, shareholders of SamAuto are Uzavtosanaot (66 per cent), Uzbek Asaka Bank (26 per cent) and Japan's Itochu which owns the rights to the Isuzu brand (eight per cent).
In January 2007, SamAuto started to assemble cars for Japanese Isuzu Motors. The company produces passenger buses with a carrying capacity of 37 people although suburban - 22 seats, as well as four models of trucks with capacities from four to 18 tons.